4 Life Lessons Taylor Swift Taught Me in 2014

2014 was a milestone year in my life. I directed my first musical, graduated college in New York, got a full time job, and moved out of my childhood home. It was also a milestone year for my rock and role model, Taylor Swift, who proved to the world she’s more than just a boy-crazed girl. Through her actions, tweets, and songs, Taylor Swift helped me to fearlessly make 2014 the best year of my life so far.

1. “You can have love all around you without being in love.” – Taylor Swift

anigif_enhanced-buzz-28288-1416895232-8If you know me, you’ll know I am the cheesiest hopelessly romantic person that ever was. Since MASH days I’ve been planning about who I’ll spend the rest of my life with—how many kids, pet names, the house, the wedding—and whenever I see someone who gives me that glimmer of hope I tend to fall flat on my face in front of them. I may even write a song or two about them. I may even put said song on a CD (attached with my name, twitter handle, and phone number) and give it to them on a sidewalk in New York City. But I’ve realized this year that I already am in love and it’s not just with one person. It’s with my friends who dared to bare with me on Spring Break, with the girl who has the same tattoo as me on her left foot, the roommate who loves Taylor Swift just as much as me, the ones who drank champagne with me in the middle of Times Square in our graduation gowns, and anyone who has willingly wanted to take a selfie with me. Why when I have so much love all around me do I want to be searching for love that hasn’t found me yet? Life is not a competition; don’t rush it. You’re meant to be where you are right now for a reason.

2. “Life can be so unexpected and that’s what makes it so beautiful.” – Taylor Swift

tumblr_ne5xbcyb7N1siq7iyo1_500A year ago I was applying anywhere and everywhere for jobs. By February I had already applied to 70 jobs, gotten 10 rejections, and only heard one “yes”; Disney World. I was accepted into the College Program where for six months you work for Disney Parks with the hope of moving up in the company. Fast forward to August and I was a week away from moving to Florida, nervous and second-guessing myself every day. That week I was offered my first full time job as the head of Social Media for the Yankee Candle Company (follow us). For almost half a year I thought my post-grad future was going to be Disney, my friends even made me a 30 minute “Goodbye” video wishing me well on my new journey. You can only plan so much for your life and you have to be ready to embrace change. If I had said no to Yankee Candle and gone to Disney I wouldn’t have danced with Taylor Swift in her kitchen, lived in a house with two of my best friends, been reunited with old friends in New York, taken my mom to see Taylor Swift perform in Times Square,  spent Thanksgiving with my family, and have the best Christmas filled with more seflies, singing, and love than I could have ever imagined. These last few months have been beautiful in the best way possible and who’s to say that Disney wouldn’t have been just as amazing. I think for me, right now I’m walking down the path I’m supposed to be on.

3. “Isn’t it wild and intriguing and beautiful to think that every day we are new?” – Taylor Swiftrs_260x320-141023120703-v19

If I tell you all my 11:11 wish, you promise not to tell anyone? Ok good! Every day when I catch 11:11 I wish that tomorrow will be better than today. Not to imply that I hate every day and can’t wait till tomorrow, but that every tomorrow should be better than today so you never have the best day. If I were to have the best day of my life right now at 22, than that means the rest of my life would be downhill. Take a chance every day. Do something that scares you. Introduce yourself to one new person. There are so many people in this world you haven’t met yet, people that could impact your life if you just have the courage to be new every day. So hang out with the group of people you met at the bar last weekend, call up an old friend and be spontaneous again, do something that brings you one step closer to your dreams, and be grateful because every morning you wake up is reason enough to want to live for tomorrows and make them better than your yesterdays.

4. “Who you are is who you choose to be and whispers behind your back don’t define you.” – Taylor Swift

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We live in a takedown culture. There’s always going to be someone trying to tear you down, making you feel bad about yourself, making you feel like you’re not important. The best way to prove them wrong is to have more fun than they are having and just shake it off. Life is too short to break yourself down over something that someone says about you. Life is too beautiful to not be yourself because you’re afraid what others might think. Take it from someone who this year brought a selfie stick to a concert,

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paraded people through Central Park with his guitar,

danced in the middle of a Yankee Candle store,

and created a Taylor Swift musical.

Did I care what people were going to think about me when I did all these things? Did I care that people called me names or told me my dreams and ideas were dumb? The words hurt but the fun I had being myself and doing what I wanted to do healed every wound. Let people tell you that you’re dreams are unrealistic. Let them make fun of the way you live your life. I’ll tell you that if you’re dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough. If you’re not living life for you then who are you living it for? Be you. Be true. Be fearless.

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The 5 BAEs Every Gay Should Have

            Gays are lucky. We don’t just get one BAE, we have numerous BAEs that together form our inner-BAE circle. We use them, in the best ways, to make our life complete and full of adventure, gossip, and wine.

1) Spontaneous BAE: giphy

This is the BAE you don’t make plans with weeks in advance. They’re the early morning text message saying, “Wanna do something today?” and you go because you know that when the two of you are together there is never a dull moment. They’re the getting lost in the middle of the woods in the dark during a thunder storm because you took too long appreciating nature, plunging through a waterfall in hopes there’s an opening on the other side, or driving down an unmarked road to see what lies at the end. Without them, you wouldn’t be in the shape you’re in today and also wouldn’t have really cool places to take your future dates to (when you know…boys want to go on dates with you).

 

2) YOLO BAE: yolo 1

When you’re just getting home at 7 a.m., this is the BAE that is by your side. They’re the ones waking you up because you passed out on a couch at the club (side note: if there’s a couch in a bar, you’re just asking me to nap on it), convincing you that more Fireball is always the answer (is that even a question?), reenacting “Rent” on the scaffolding of a building, and Santa Con-ing through a blizzard on the streets of NYC just so you can make it to the end. Without them, you wouldn’t have stories to tell your future kids about how cool Dad really was in college and 3 A.M. by Matchbox Twenty wouldn’t be the anthem to all your late night adventures.

 

3) Zazu BAE: zazu

Zazu from “The Lion King” isn’t just a fictional character, they are the BAE that tries to make you see both sides of every situation. They are the one who plays the “yes or no” game with you when they know you’re about to make a terrible decision. They’re the one you don’t always tell what you’re really doing because you know they won’t like it but they still let you come in like a wrecking ball at 2 a.m. and cuddle with them (against their will). They’re the one who cares for you so much that they don’t want anything bad to ever happen to you because they can’t imagine a life without you, and you can’t imagine a life without them. Without them you wouldn’t have someone to tell you that your scruff is always on point but that doesn’t mean you should go try and hookup with the new freshman.

 

4) D.L.S. BAE:200CA0NT21A

In the midst of the post-morning can’t-remember every detail but definitely remember hooking up with that guy with the mustache, this is the BAE you tell all your dirty little secrets to. They’re you’re cheerleader when it comes to wanting a guy and getting the guy. They tell you that life’s too short to simply fantasize about how his accent would sound saying your name and want you to spare no detail once you score. 200CA6J04PM

You don’t tell your other BAEs about this because you don’t think they could handle all the details, but your D.L.S. BAE reads your text messages with one hand while their other hand is deep in a bag of popcorn wanting more. Without them you would probably think that sometimes you’re a little too slutty, because they always reassure you that you’re just young, hot, and doing you.

 

5) SoulBAE: 200CADAXQMN

At the end of the night when all you want is Ellio’s Pizza and “Tangled”, this is the BAE who tucks you into bed. You don’t know how you lived all those years without them and you question if you actually have the same brain when you send each other the same texts at the same time. They’re the one who you cross things off your bucket list with, get matching Taylor Swift tattoos and always say “yes” to boxed wine and Disney Channel Original movies on a Saturday night. Your family always asks how they’re doing, and vice versa, and even sends them a Christmas card. Without them, you wouldn’t have your biggest fan who would listen to you play guitar until they fall asleep (and they do because you’re on their sleep playlist) and you wouldn’t have someone who loves you more than any boy ever will.

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My New York Day With Taylor Swift: From almost peeing my pants to peeing in her bathroom

To some, Monday August 18th was just another day in the fleeting last month of the summer. But for Taylor Swift fans, “Swifties,” around the world, August 18th was Christmas morning and Taylor Swift gave us the best presents.

It all began when she announced that her Yahoo live-stream would take place Monday at 5 p.m. and said nothing more. Not even a screaming, tantrum-throwing, paper-crumpling Jimmy Fallon could get it out of her during her August 13th appearance on the Tonight Show. Her official social media fan account, Taylor Nation, announced that they were looking for 89 of her biggest fans to join Taylor in the big apple for what was to be a historical day. We had 100 words to describe why we were the biggest Taylor Swift fan and should be selected for this once in a lifetime experience.

Let me give you a little background on my love for Taylor Swift (which some may call an over compulsive obsession). I’ll try my best to give the Reader’s Digest version.

In 2008, I headed to see Taylor for the first time. She opened up for country act Rascal Flatts in Hartford, CT and while walking to the venue I was aimlessly admiring my cell phone as teenagers do when all of a sudden my friend yelled, “TYLER LOOK OUT!” I quickly turned to find a giant tour bus about to run me over and, being the athletic human being I am (#SPORTS!), I lept out of the way. As the tour bus rolled past I noticed that it was Taylor Swift’s tour bus and I kind of wished Cady Heron was there to push me in front of it.

2008 was the year of “Fearless” and a time when I became the main target for the football team to kick me into my locker between classes. I looked to Taylor, her music, her messages, and stood up for myself to let the bullies know I was stronger than them. By 2010 I had seen Taylor two more times in concert, learned to play guitar, started writing songs, and wanted to thank her for teaching me to be fearless. My wish came true after a music video I filmed throughout the grounds of my High School made its way to a local radio station. A representative greeted me on June 5th, 2010 at Gillette stadium with meet and greet passes, and Taylor even gave me a kiss (my closeted-self was infinite in that moment).

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2010 was my first year of college, the year Taylor Swift released Speak Now, and the time I realized I needed to speak now about who I was and who I wanted to be. 2013 rolled along and I had now seen Taylor 11 times in concert and wanted to thank her, again. I took to YouTube with another original song and a local New York radio station found the video. Another meet and greet came and went. I got to thank her again and had her write “fearless” on an index card for me, later getting it tattooed on my left foot with my best friend.

Written in Taylor's handwritting.

Written in Taylor’s handwriting.

Here we are in 2014: I have seen Taylor Swift 14 times in concert and decided to put on an original Taylor Swift musical my friend wrote for me (Youtube: ItsALoveStoryMusical #selfpromotion). The show gained the attention of Perez Hilton, Playbill.com, and a ton of New York radio and news stations.


Back to the contest.

I decided I would use my 100 words to write about the musical, because what other fan has created a musical for Taylor? (I can actually answer that: none.) On August 16th I got a phone call on behalf of Taylor Swift saying that I had been selected to attend the live stream event. They told me it’s called “Project Hummingbird” and that I could not disclose any information regarding the event, its location, or where I was to be on August 18th. I ran around my backyard screaming and jumping like I had just won the Quidditch World Cup while my mom told me to stop because the neighbors were going to think something was wrong with me.

The day came and I dressed to the nines because Taylor says “New York is worth dressing up for” (she doesn’t mention that New York is not worth sweating like a sinner in church as you sit on the subway next to a lady who thinks you’re dating the woman breast feeding next to you). I made it to the top secret location AKA the Millennium hotel on 44th street and everyone waiting in the lobby looked like they were waiting for the cannon to go off signaling the start of the Hunger Games.

At check-in they took all of our belongings from us; the only thing we were allowed to bring with us to the event was ourselves. We were placed in a holding room from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and, turns out, that whole awkward silence between strangers didn’t apply to a room full of 89 die hard Taylor Swift fans. We talked about our favorite songs, favorite relationships (#TaylorAndJoe5ever), the moment that made us a Taylor Swift fan, and obviously had a giant group sing-along to ”22” and “Mean.” Group by group we were taken from holding across the street to the Good Morning America studios where we rode in an elevator Noah could’ve fit all his animals in up to the second floor. When we walked into the studio, set to look like a New York City loft, everyone’s faces lit up like they had just ran down the stairs and saw all of the presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

We waited ever so patiently, the reality of everything at an ultimate high as Perez Hilton walked in sporting boots and a space cat tank top. In a few short minutes we were going to ring in the beginning of a new era with Taylor Swift. We counted down the seconds like it was Times Square on New Year’s Eve and, at 5 p.m., Taylor burst through the studio doors wearing a crop top and high wasted skirt that only seemed fit for royalty. The 89 of us sounded louder than an arena before the encore of a concert, and Taylor took her seat on a couch in awe of the moment and what she was about to do.

The excitement seemed to seep from her as she greeted us and said she had three surprises for us. The first, a new song “Shake it Off.” Before the song even started, Taylor jumped up off the couch, as did all 89 of us.

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When the first note came over the speakers Taylor began freaking out, as did everyone in the room, and she did what she knows how to do best; she danced like no one was watching (even though millions of people around the world could see her).

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She tried to dance with almost every fan, even taking some lucky boys out into the middle of the room for some shakes and shimmies, and when the song ended she crashed back onto the couch like she had just gotten back to her apartment after the best night out; exhausted with a smile wider than distance. My first instinct was to bow down, because the song was fresh, it was new, and you could clearly see how much energy and love Taylor had put into the production of the song.

I think the only words any of us heard in the song were “shake it off” because the adrenaline and excitement in the room while everyone was dancing with Taylor drowned it all out in the best way possible.

The second surprise was the new album name and artwork, a simple Polaroid photo of Taylor Swift’s red lips, curly blonde hair, and a shirt with a flock of seagulls on it, with sharpie written on the bottom, “T.S. 1989.” The new era of Taylor Swift was upon us and she said that this new album is her “favorite thing [she’s] ever done”. The last surprise was a music video to “Shake it Off” but the 89 of us were not watching the music video, we were watching Taylor’s reactions to the music video. From throwing her head back laughing at herself as a break dancing ballerina,

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to hiding her face in her lap as she crawled under the twerking ladies,

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it was like she was watching if for the first time even though the project was completed two months prior. All the gifts had now been unwrapped and the live stream ended as Taylor awkwardly announced, “You know what they say, there’s no sale like a presale….no one says that.”

The cameras turned off and all of us remained applauding Taylor who now stood standing before us all. Then she spoke the most magical words that made me feel like I was next to Aladdin on his magic carpet, “Soooo…I have this place…and I have some pizza…and I was wondering if you all wanted to come hang out?”

LIKE THAT WAS EVEN A QUESTION, TAYLOR SWIFT?!? The 89 of us filled the room with noises that were unlike any I’ve heard before and Taylor responded with, “I’ll take that as a yes! I will see you all soon!”

We were loaded onto coach busses and brought to our destination (we asked her people if we were going to be blindfolded and they told us that they had honestly considered doing that but realized that was a little too much). I made a joke about how I hoped there were going to be paparazzi outside her apartment doors and planned three poses I was going to do, just in case (there weren’t any paps…disappointed).

In a single file line, all 89 of us hiked up the six flights of stairs (which Taylor later told us is how her legs stay so toned) to Taylor’s top floor loft where one by one she greeted us and welcomed us to her home. While waiting in line, Meredith, her cat, began walking around looking at all of us as and back to Taylor as if to say, “Why are you all here? Mom, why are they all here? Why aren’t you looking at me mom? MOM?! MOM!!!” She proceeded to cling herself to the arm of a couch Taylor was standing next to. Taylor was barefoot sporting a simple black dress sipping on a can of Diet Coke.

Her dad, Scott, came to talk to people in line as we were all waiting. Scott is known for always having Taylor Swift guitar pics in his pockets and gives them out to fans. He told us a story about how one time he gave a fan a quarter because that is all he had and told the fan, “getting a quarter from me is a big deal because I never have quarters in my pockets.”

It was my turn to be welcomed in by Taylor and I wasn’t expecting her to remember me. The amount of fans and people she meets on a regular basis is hard enough for her to remember let alone a hopeless fan whom she met over a year ago. She looked at me as if confused at first and said, “heyyy…you?…” and I said “heyyy…youuu gave me a tattoo!” (cue the classic Taylor Swift surprise face, hands over her mouth and everything) “OMG!!! WAIT, CAN I SEE IT?!” Lucky for her, the night before I gave my left foot a pedicure (lucky for me, I only had to give my left foot a pedicure but that’s not saying anything about the right one).

She loved the tattoo and even touched it realizing that was her handwriting forever on my body. I told her I was also the one who recently created a musical for her and she told me how when she found out, she couldn’t believe that someone had done that. “It was one of the coolest things I’ve had someone do for me, and it means so much, that you would want to use my songs for something like that.” She then said, “I was going through a hard time the day I found out about it and that totally turned my whole day around.” (cue me almost peeing my pants). Clearly at a loss for words, Taylor told me the pizza was in the living room and to make myself feel at home…in her house.

I grabbed my slice of pizza and walked into the kitchen to grab a beverage and almost bumped into Perez Hilton who was sitting at a chair talking to Tre Paine, Taylor’s new publicist (okay, casual Perez Hilton at the party…). I went to find Gabby, a girl I met that day who happened to be childhood friends with one of my friends from college (talk about a small world), and we walked around her house together. Some of my favorite items in Taylor’s house included a photo of Ed Sheeran giving the finger, a wall of framed Polaroid pictures documenting the last two years of Taylor’s life, the Grammy for album of the year 2009, a half bottle of Fireball (that’s my girl!), the VMA for “I Knew You Were Trouble”, Frozen on Blu-Ray, and a beautiful grand piano next to the bathroom…which I peed in.

Her dad was hanging out in the TV room with Olivia Benson, Taylor’s newest cat, and welcomed us all to hold her and play with her. I’ve never met a cat who liked to be held by so many random people and loved every one of them more than the last (although, she did pee on one fan…and when the fan told Taylor later about the incident she responded, “ew, I’m so sorry for that. That’s like, gross.”) When asking for Meredith, her dad said that she ran up the stairs and was hiding.

I went back into the kitchen to find Taylor just casually eating a piece of pizza not talking to anyone. Soon, about 10 other fans noticed the same thing and we all just stood in silence, watching Taylor eat pizza. “Don’t mind me, I’m a slob and I’m so hungry.” We all laughed watching Taylor get pizza sauce on her face, realizing that even she can’t make eating pizza look like a fine dining experience. Soon, word got around the apartment that she was in the kitchen and all 89 of us crammed in to watch Taylor Swift eat her pizza.

Fans then began asking her questions about theories they had on the album based on clues Taylor gave. She laughed at a lot of them and was like “yeah….no those were some crazy thought out theories. I was just trying to give simple clues, like having 89 of you here…1989.” We all realized our theories on black and white, roses, and skylines were just us going crazy to try to figure out what this new era was to be all about (only Swifties will understand that last sentence).

Taylor had Z100 playing over the speakers in her house and suddenly someone screamed, “TAYLOR TURN UP THE RAIDO!! IT’S YOUR SONG!!” Taylor parted fans like the red sea and sprinted to turn up the radio screaming, “THIS IS MY SONG!!! THIS IS MY SONG!!” She then paraded around her kitchen dancing with fans while her publicist and Perez Hilton sat in amazement and awe, phones out, documenting the experience.

When she got to me, we asked her, “TAYLOR, WHAT ARE THE WORDS TO THE CHORUS??” (all caps were necessary because if only you knew how loud we made that kitchen. and also because we had yet to clearly hear the actual song). She taught me and three girls the words to the chorus, using hand motions and loud talking and proceeded to be so excited when we were singing along to the words with her! “YES! YES! THAT’S IT! NOW SHAKE! SHAKE! SHAKE!” The song ended, we all applauded, and she thanked all of us for being with her for that moment. “This is my first house party ever, and I’m so excited all you guys are here.”

Perez chimed in, “What artist does this for their fans? NO ONE!” proceeded by loud cheers from all 89 of us. Taylor then looked like a light bulb had just gone off over her head, “You guys wanna take some Polaroid pictures?! (cue the loudest “YES” I’ve ever heard) To the living room!”

In the living room Taylor announced, “Go around and find all my awards! What’s the fun in having them if you can’t play with them?” We all took turns holding her various Grammys, and VMAs, and smiled for her Polaroid camera. I got to hold her Grammy for “Mean” (which only seemed fitting based on my past) and I promised her that I wouldn’t drop it. “Oh, it’s fine,” Taylor replied “I’ve done it before.”

TAYLOR SWIFT WINS FOUR GRAMMYS AT THE 52ND ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS

I then told her my metaphor, about how today felt like Christmas morning and (cue Taylor Swift surprise face) “OMG! THAT IS THE BEST METAPHOR TO DESCRIBE TODAY! YES!” I then asked to keep the Polaroid and Taylor said that she wanted to keep them for herself but would have them all scanned and sent to us.

Casually holding Taylor Swift's Grammy

Casually holding Taylor Swift’s Grammy

While others were crowding over Taylor, patiently waiting their turn or just basking in her presence, I went back to the TV room where Scott still was. He told a group of us that this was his favorite room of the house because it was where he and his family spend the most time together when they’re visiting Taylor. He made us all sit on his favorite couch to experience how far back the couch went and how four people could lay on it at the same time. I asked him if he ever gets star struck by Taylor’s friends and he said, “I’ll come over and there’s Emma Stone or Karlie Kloss just sitting at the table and I’m all…’Oh, hi!’” He then commented on Perez, “I mean, can you believe Perez Hilton is sitting right over there??”

He told me how proud he was of Taylor for her new place, “Everything you see in this place, Taylor did. She didn’t hire anyone, this is all her.” When asking him about the new album he said “Oh my GOD you guys, woo, you’re going to love this album. I can’t even tell you how great it is! I find myself humming it in public, especially in elevators, catch myself and have to stop because I forget that no one else has heard it yet!” (cue every fan now wanting to ride in elevators with Scott). He told us also how Taylor wanted to spend this day with us. “She could’ve chosen to spend this historical day any way she wanted to and she chose to be with all of you” (cue waterworks and “My Heart Will Go On” because, emotions).

Parting is such sweet sorrow and it was time to leave. Taylor bid her farewell to all of us one by one presenting thank you gifts to us, a bag with a flock of seagulls on it and shirts saying “Shake it off”. I found her publicist before leaving and thanked her for this day. She told me, “No, thank you. Watching you and everyone else dance with Taylor in her kitchen to a song she’s been waiting for you to hear for six months was life. I’m good now.”

I gave Taylor one final hug goodbye (you haven’t lived until you’ve gotten a hug from Taylor Swift; it’s like an angel wrapping its wings around you) and told her how I’ve kept a piece of heart confetti in my wallet from her concert back in 2009 as a reminder to myself to always follow my dreams. Her eyes seemed to almost water up as she said, “That means so much that you still have that. I hope to make more memories with you at the 1989 tour. I’ll see you there?” her eyes smiling goodbye.

And just like that, I walked out the doors of Taylor Swift’s apartment as if waking up from the best dream I had ever had.